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Press & Awards

Check back here often for the latest news on our new product releases, awards, recognitions, and other exciting achievements.

Home Automation Podcast Episode #146: An Industry Q&A With Pat and Phil Mulligan

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Pat and Phil Mulligan of Pacific Audio & Communications share logistical hurdles faced when running a Hawaii based business.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Pat and Phil Mulligan. Recorded live on Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. EST.

About Pat and Phil Mulligan

Today's show features brothers Phil Mulligan, President at Pacific Audio & Communications Hawaii and Vice President, Pat Mulligan.

Phil founded Maui-based integration firm Pacific Audio & Communication in 1991 to help homeowners achieve their goal of integrated home control and entertainment systems.

Later in 1998, Pat joined Phil in the family business and used his military electronics experience and degree in electrical engineering to help run the CI side of the operation, including all Crestron programming.

Pacific Audio & Communications is a CEDIA Member, HTA Luxury Certified integration firm, and a Veteran Owned Business.

Interview Recap

  • Logistical hurdles faced when running a Hawaii based business
  • Pat's time in the Army and the transition into the custom integration industry
  • How Pat and Phil prepare their projects for extreme weather conditions
  • The Ballistic Missle scare from 2018

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #145: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Bert Herrero and Joel Hernandez


Ron:  What's up gentlemen? How are you?

Pat: Aloha Ron. Before we get started virtually typically we would give the host a lei and because you're not here I'm just going to drape it over the camera or I'll wear it for you because you're not here.

Ron:  That's very kind. Educate us non-native Hawaiians. What is the history of the lei? What is this symbolic meaning of the lei?

Pat: Oh it's like Aloha. It could mean multiple things. In this case because you're inviting us as if we were coming to your home we would want to greet you with something like If you go to somebody else's house. You typically take a bottle of wine or something. In this case this is that type of greeting for you. And most times when that reading happens in the Hawaiian culture they also do the hop. When you say "Aloha", typically you're doing it for head to for head breathe you breathe in so that you feel connected together. Now with COVID, not so much but the typical ceremony for that in a greeting especially in this kind of situation we want to make sure that you are basically told thank you for letting us come into your home and giving us this presentation.

Ron:  Now I'll tell you, I'm 42. My parents have been married for many many years 40 or 50 years now. And when they were newly married, where they went to have their honeymoon and where they did all their vacationing before they had all of us kids was in Hawaii. There's all these old photographs of my parents, my mom and dad in Hawaii and when they would get off the airplane there'd be the row of people putting leis on the guests as they were coming off the airplane and I remember those images very vividly. Pat, why don't you go to introduce yourself and then let's get your brother introduced as well?

Pat: Not a problem. Hello everyone. Pat Mulligan, Vice president and Business Development for Pacific Audio Communications. I was fortunate enough to join my brother Phil in the business in '96 after my stint in the Army as an 82nd Airborne communications technician. That's how my background in electronics came into play. Went and got my degree from Devry University. I have a double e in that and was fortunate enough not that to look for a job after that because Phil's said, "Hey we've got a pretty good business going here and I need somebody that has that technical know how to push us to the next level automation and stuff like that." I came onboard jumped on with Crestron and been doing that since '97 and I got to thank Phil a lot for giving me that opportunity to come back home.

Ron:  That's amazing. Keeping it in the family. And Phil?

Phil: It was out of necessity that we went and met Pat. Pat had just graduated from Dubai and we flew up. He was in Arizona at the time. And we threw up and sat down with him and said look we need you to come back. We've got this opportunity. You have some technical skills that we need. I'd love to have you back and they were looking for an excuse to get back. And get out of Arizona area. We were really excited about him coming in and him jumping completely in headfirst into Crestron. At the time, it was pretty flooring in the early 90s, what was happening and what wasn't happening.

Ron:  That was the early days. They were just moving into the color touch panel. Was it still black and white, Pat? You're shaking your head.

Pat: Well I'm saying yeah. It was just as they had had really moved into simple windows as we know it today. Now prior to that it was all dos. It was just on that brink. But yeah they had the monochrome out at the time it was the CT1000 or something like that.

Ron:  Oh my goodness I do remember. Was the CT1000 black and white?

Pat: Yeah. They had Elsie.

Ron:  That was around even into the early 2000s. Yeah , I started there in '03 and there were still Elsie 1000s around so that's interesting. Now Phil, you're the Founder of the company. When did you found Pacific Audio and Communications and how did that all go down how did that happen?

Phil: My background is electrical contracting and I took over my dad had an electrical contracting business here on Maui and I took that over when I got back from college in '85. And we did a lot of the high-end residential work that was here on Maui. There was a company here that was doing in-ceiling speakers and security and central vac and phone and cable. At that time there was no network. And these guys were on most of the jobs that we were on and they were both from Seattle and they wanted to move back to Seattle. My original partner who was a general contractor and myself approached them and said look, what do you guys do? What vendors do you use and how do you do this stuff? And so we sat down with him for a couple of weeks and they went through a vendor list and we paid him some money for this information. And we said look let me follow you guys on some jobs.

I went out and worked with them on some of their jobs for pretty wire and things like that. And we were on those jobs anyway doing electrical. And I said look we want to do this. You guys are leaving. Let's move forward on this. And so that's how we started. And we started with just myself and this general contractor that would go out on a Saturday or something and go do a job and it just grew from there. At the time we were really the only guys on Maui that were doing this work. There were a couple of companies on Oahu that were doing this work and they were flying over. They were flying guys over to do it.

Ron:  Flying guys over from California from the States?

Phil: From Oahu. Yeah. There was a couple of guys a couple of companies over there. And I remember sitting in some meetings and we had just started Pacific Audio and sitting in some meetings with some of the guys that flew over from Oahu and just floored on what they were providing for these clients because I had never seen any of that stuff. CDs were just coming out in the late 80s. I remember seeing the first C.D. player on a job we probably did in '84 or '85 something like that and I'm going what is this? Technology changing from in the early 90s we were using cassette decks and multi C.D. players and VCRs til where DVD first started showing up in the late 90s. It's been an interesting ride.

Ron:  Phil, the idea or the concept of the custom integrator the systems integrator is that what Pacific Audio has always been since the beginning? Have you been a systems integration firm for the last 30 years or did that really change or migrate to more of that? Did you start as an electrical contracting firm that added or that became a systems integration firm or are you both today?

Phil: No. Malcolm Electric was the electrical contracting company Malcolm means mountain and that's where we grew up on Maui was upcountry. That was the appropriate name. But we did work all over the island and I ran Malcolm Electric and we shut down in 2002. I couldn't justify doing the electrical work and the A.V. work that I was passionate about. More passionate than the electrical work. I think from the get-go we had to be custom in the A.V word because that's all that there was. The was volume controls and speakers but you wanted anything further that you had to go out and find it. Start using relays and doing this kind of stuff just to make things work. To have them work the way the clients wanted them to work and there wasn't a lot of off the shelf stuff. We were customizing even before there was such a term of called integrator. That's the thing, electrical. We would still if we were wiring electrical today we would still wired the same way. The codes have changed so there has been advances in that. But the actual physical of what you're doing hasn't really changed. Unlike A.V work and what we're doing now. It changes every six months. And so that was what excited me about it was I hadn't seen any true advancements in electrical work in 20 years other than code changes. It was that excitement factor of this thing constantly changing. That really drew me to that.

"From my experience many of the integrators that have a foundation in electrical contracting are more prone to focus at least maybe a larger percentage of their flow in lighting control just because you're comfortable with high voltage and low voltage."

Ron:  Pat, a lot of from my experience many of the integrators that have a foundation in electrical contracting usually they are more prone to focus at least maybe a larger percentage of their flow in lighting control just because you're comfortable with high voltage and low voltage. Is that the case with you guys or what's your approach to lighting control within your business mix?

Pat: I would say Phil was probably one of the first guys doing Lutron. Phil, when did you jump on Lutron? You guys were doing it at Smith when I showed up in '96. Right?

Phil: The first lighting control job we did was Vantage. And it was '92 I think. And it had to be pre-programmed from the factory. It wasn't something that you could physically change in the field.

Ron:  All the button presses all the scenes all the load assignments everything was pre-configured from the mothership?

Phil: Yup.

Ron:  What about change orders?

Phil: It was difficult.

Ron:  I mean it sounds like a nightmare.

Phil: The amount of paperwork that you had to do first of all to get the Vantage was astronomical. We ended up going back and upgrading that job just after it was complete because the new system you could go in and make all these changes and stuff. The infrastructure was there but the processor and other things we were able to change out just so the client could have more user friendly and we could change things easier for them. And I don't remember what that system was called. We had to have a guy from Vantage fly out and commission the system. He was there helping us terminate things and stuff like that. And then he would take back any of the changes that we needed done. He'd take it back. They'd go and do it at the factory. They'd send us a floppy disk of the changes we would have to go in. I don't even remember how we connected to it and load those changes to it. It's been a journey.

Ron:  That's amazing. And Pat, you are the Crestron guy sounds like from day one and I know you're still the Crestron guy. Now I generally don't ask product mix questions so just answer this in whatever politically correct way you need to do this. But are you guys doing all Crestron or is it one of the things that you guys do? and little you know we also do.

Pat: We also do Control4 have been now for five years now, something like that. But yeah. We were there when Barry Koontz and Mark and Shelley all opened the West Coast office.

Ron:  Shelley Flynn.

Pat: Yeah. They were our trainers. They would come out. Barry would come out once a year for about a week we'd fly all the teams into Maui and we trained for a week and it was awesome. It was easier for us to help pay that one person to come in than it was to try and send ten-twelve guys up there. It just made sense at that time but yeah we've been involved since at least the West Coast opened.

Ron:  How are all these companies handling training? I know that forever you guys would all have to maintain your training and certifications year after year and it was I want to say it was common for you to have a pilgrimage to the factory for some sort of regularly updated training. What's happening now with COVID?

Pat: Yeah. A lot of that has pushed to virtual, very similar to what we're doing right now with your podcast. Crestron has really ramped up their training program. And I'd say about 80 percent of it is virtual where you can do it on your time. Now the certification classes are different. It's virtual but it's live. You're basically sitting at your home or your office and you're logging into one of their processors somewhere in Texas or wherever it is.

Ron:  You're programming and configuring and affecting a process for that virtual format in the cloud somewhere.

Pat: Correct. Right. Our guys love it because now we can tell them, "Hey look at the time frames." Most times again logistically running a business in Hawaii is a lot different from what you guys do on the mainland. One, because of the time differences and one hour for us makes a big difference when that time shift happens with daylight savings time.

Ron:  Tell me more about that. I've heard you talk to me about this in the past so share like what are the stresses on your business because of daylight savings time.

Pat: Technical support will be one of the biggest ones because when you guys on the East Coast are shutting down we're just waking up. Honestly.

Ron:  Right now it's 4:23 pm.

Pat: It's 7:23 here now. Now you guys on the East Coast you're five hours ahead of us. During daylight savings which happens in March. That's a one hour time difference. It's a pain in the butt.

Ron:  Do you not have daylight savings in Hawaii? Isn't that messed up?

Pat: A different version of it. It's such a mess. Why does that exist?

Phil: Yeah no idea.

Ron:  No idea. Some bureaucrat somewhere at some time thought that was a good idea. Pat, what are some of the other differences of running a business in an island state? It's not the same as it here.

Pat: For those that don't know or haven't heard, Hawaii is the most isolated populated place in the planet. We're five hours minimum to get to the mainland. Right. So California L.A. whatever the case may be. So those logistics need to be figured out. Freight and all those things can be a major pain in the butt. If we need something rushed, there is nothing as overnight. It's just not going to happen. We're at best two to three days. Some guys that come in from the mainland to do work here and there are quite a few of them that do they'll end up reaching out to us because they either forgot something or it's not going to happen overnight to see if we've got those things. A lot of people start learning that those logistics here are completely different. You don't truck something here. It ain't happening. It's not going to happen. Those types of things we get used to it over amount over time. Phil and I are just like it is what it is and we don't think twice about it because that is a logistical part of our business.

Ron:  I'll direct this to you Pat and then I'm going to jump down to you Phil. Why when a customer calls in for service and if they give you their address why is that not enough information?

Pat: And that's another logistical nightmare because and again we talked about this a little bit ago on our pre-setup but Hawaii has again for whatever reason. The perfect example there's a Kailua on the big island there's one on Oahu. And there's a Kailua in Hawaii. If somebody says hey I'm in Kailua oh hey that which island is this that's more important that's what island are you physically on.

Ron:  On each island, you can have the same city. The same city might be on two or three or four different islands. Even the same roads. The same city the same house address literally could be on four different islands.

Pat: Yep.

Ron:  Whose fault is this?

Pat: Not mine.

Phil: We're going gonna blame the missionaries for that one. There are so many idiosyncrasies here that people wouldn't think of that happen here. It can cause and will cause delays and strange things happen. With shipping, Pat mentioned this. We have to order stuff at least two months before we need it. Sometimes depending on what it is. If it's shades, it's easily two months and it's different per island. Oahu, everything gets shipped basically from California to Oahu and then it gets passed out from Oahu to the outer islands. It gets taken out of the container put into a different container. Add other stuff into it and then it gets shipped to either Maui the big island or another.

Then you've got to add another week to add to your shipment issue. If it's gonna be two to three weeks to Oahu, you got another week to get it to the outer islands. And then it's usually three or four days for them to break it down out of the container once it gets the island get it to the freight forward company and then call you and go, "Hey we got this stuff we want to deliver it." Logistically, you really need to know your schedules. And when your project needs to be completed or when you need these items. Because then you've got to work your way backward and go, 'Ok I need these items at this date. I got to work two months back. If it's air freight, it's ground it's seven days maybe. I mean if you want to try and get it here quicker like Pat said The fastest I've ever seen anything is two days and that's if it leaves California in the morning and it has to be a certain day it has to be like Tuesday or Wednesday. It will if it leaves California in the morning their time in the morning. We will possibly get it by Friday in the morning depending on when they deliver. FedEx U.P.S. usually delivers to our location about 12:00 to 1:00 in the afternoon sometimes. Yeah, logistically shipping is a major hurdle. And like Pat said, timeframe on tech support. If we're trying to call East Coast in daylight savings time, we have to call them by 10:00 hour time or else they are closed. You're on a job at three o'clock hour time.

Ron:  You know you're stuck.

Phil: You're stuck until the next morning.

Ron:  Phil, who are your customers? Are these locals that are building nice houses or I know you do resi and commercial so maybe start there. What's your mix resi commercial and then who are the customers? Are they locals are they people that this is their vacation home if they're resi? What is business like?

Phil: Our mix is probably about seventy-five twenty-five so seventy-five residential twenty-five commercial and I would say 90 percent of our residential is part-time residents so second homes vacation homes that they have here. We do have a handful of clients that initially were part-time residents have now moved here that are here full time. We're starting to see and we're probably going to start to see more of an uptick of people that are moving here and will do work remotely. Most of it would be Silicon Valley people California people maybe Oregon Washington-type people and businesses.

Ron:  Are you seeing real estate pick up or are you seeing a COVID effect?

Phil: Yeah, there's very little inventory right now in certain price ranges. The million and a half to three million price range there's no inventory or very little. And the super high over 10 to 10 plus there's hardly any inventory.

Ron:  Ten to the sky's the limit.

Phil: Yeah. Almost every week I'm getting pinged a couple of times from Hawaii business news. Some huge estate just sold for 30 million dollars on Kaui or some huge estate sold on Oahu for twenty-five million or something like that. There's a lot of activity. Now commercially, that is is taking a hit. A lot of commercial businesses or properties are having a hard time filling those spaces. Maui has the largest unemployment rate in the state. Last, I think we looked we were at about 22 percent unemployment.

Ron:  Wow. Why is that? Oh, that had to be from the hotel industries.

Phil: All the hotel industry hotel and hospitality all the tour companies all those restaurants.

Ron:  That has to be devastating for so many people in your society. The upper end of society. And I don't mean they're better I just mean they have more money. They're doing fine. But yeah. Twenty-two percent without jobs. I mean that's devastating.

Phil: Yeah, it's huge. I mean there are constantly food drives for people that are out of work. The counties have really stepped up and thrown a lot of money at the businesses that are hurting the most. Sad to say we've seen some restaurants that have been around for 20 some odd years that will not return. We have started to open up. Some of the hotels some of the larger hotels have opened some of the larger ones will be open on December 1st. We're starting to see that activity return but very slowly and we're trying to be very cautious about we can't afford to have our case numbers go up. We have one hospital on Maui and there are only I think 60 ICU beds. And only so many ventilators. And that could be overwhelmed very quickly.

The counties are very very serious. The governor is very serious about allowing people in, making sure they have negative tests. They did just revise their testing requirements as of a couple of days ago. They were allowing people to get on the plane if they had taken a test and they didn't have the results yet and come in and if the results came in then they can stop quarantining. The problem that I have with that is somebody gets on the plane and they've had people that have gotten here and they get a positive test. Now everybody on the plane has been exposed to that person. Right.

Ron:  That seems kind of sloppy. That certainly is not what Hawaii was known for, for most of this period. You guys had probably some of the strictest quarantine rules in North America at least to my knowledge.

Phil: And it was easier for us to do because you can't get here unless you get on a plane. I think they're going to even revise that. What it got revised to now is you can get on a plane without a test but you're going to have to quarantine the whole time either 14 days or the length of your stay whichever is shorter. It's trying to have them understand that we really don't want you getting on a plane without a negative COVID test. And I don't know legally if the county can force somebody or prevent somebody from getting on a plane. I don't know the legality of it and I think maybe that's why it's worded the way it is.

Ron:  Seems like it would have to do with the originating airline or airport.

Pat: With it being a private entity private business even though some of them are public with stocks and stuff like that, the airline would have to be the one that says it.

Phil: Yeah , there's got to be some legal thing that they could word it and say you can't get on a plane you know unless you have this. The way around it was OK you can get on the plane but if you don't have it when you get on the plane then you're 14 day quarantine no matter what happens. Again in the verbiage in the way they did it I think is just a reason of what legally they can do.

Ron:  Phil 2020, will your business be up or flat or down over 2019?

"I have a feeling we're gonna be down maybe 10 percent. And it's not that the projects have stopped. It's the projects have been delayed. Things that we were supposed to be finishing in September October are now finishing in February March."

Phil: I looked at our numbers a couple of days ago and we're about 12 percent down from where we were in 2019 currently. We have another month to try to make that up and I think we'll make some of that up. But I have a feeling we're gonna be down maybe 10 percent. And it's not that the projects have stopped. It's the projects have been delayed. Things that we were supposed to be finishing in September October are now finishing in February March.

Pat: More of the COVID push a lot of it got shut down and things got pushed.

Ron:  Pat, I want to put something on the screen. I want you to tell us what it is. There we go in for my podcast listeners I've got a bunch of army dudes with military fatigues and painted faces and guns and total badassery all the way around. What am I seeing here Pat?

Pat: That is the team I was assigned with. I won't say which one I am, Ron figured it out. I'm in the back row I'll say that but I was fortunate enough it was '89 and I was a communications operator coming out of Fort Bragg and attached to one of the province aid groups that was training for Special Forces. The Special Forces Group is the background in front of me or in front of us kneeling there are all the tier 1 guys or what everybody knows as SEAL Team 6. Our mission at that time was to get Noriega out of our country as a dictator. That team right there was basically a team that made that happen and I was very privileged to be able to work with them. We did a night jump excuse me in very early in the morning. And we met up with the Tier 1 group half the group went after his plane and helicopter and the other half went after his boat because they knew if he got to those devices then he'd probably be gone or have some kind of place to find asylum.

Ron:  Did they go to destroy those devices? What was your intent?

Pat: One thing that Trump did is he released a lot of the documentation that we can all go look at now. If you look up Operation Just Cause you're going to see a lot of these photos and you will get the true story of what happened down there. A lot of people thought it was a war. Yeah there was a lot of damage. There was some deaths and stuff like that for sure but it was a skirmish to get him out of there and for those that are old enough that remember, he ended up taking asylum into the church that was there which is a sanctioned state at that time that NATO we couldn't go into.

Ron:  You couldn't go into the church building?

Pat: No as a sanctioned state at that time be a NATO law was we could not go in. What we could do though is we shut the power off. We allowed no food in or out. We let the priest know that we're not there for them. We're not there to destroy their building we're not there to do any of that stuff. And that wasn't me. That was somebody else much higher up that did the negotiations with that. But they basically came out they understood that. About three days later because he had little water he had no food. He basically came crawling out and surrendered. That was how it all played out.

Ron:  And you were there.

Pat: I was.

Ron:  That's crazy. In the military what was your job and how did that lend itself to you joining your brother from an integration standpoint?

Pat: Perfect segue way, as I mentioned, I was a communications radio operator at the time. I was in charge of all the comms all the communication between our S.F. team and the tier 1 team. And of course, all the upper brass to understand what was going on behind the scenes. Back then we were just journalists on the brink of getting into digital. My MOS or my military occupational specialty was as a 31M which was an analog side. And then right around '89 '90 switched to 31 Delta which was the digital side of the communications. I was knee-deep in it. I mean my life expectancy during war as far as comms goes I think it was like 15 seconds. It was ridiculous. I was the guy or my team was part of that team that kept the communications in order so that all teams could talk in the upper brass.

That was my lead-in when I got out. I had the G.I. Bill that I could use which paid for my Devry schooling and really honed in on the component level repair side of things because that was still prevalent back then. Slaughtering and boards and schematics and all that kind of stuff. And then when Phil presented hey we've got this thing going on on Maui it seems to be taking off. We need somebody that has a little bit more of that engineering background to take us to that next level. And at that point, we started researching okay Crestron, AMX we were all involved with was in my wheelhouse because of that training and I was able to bring a lot of that training not only on the technical side but also on the logistical side. I had to run teams of 15 or 18 or 20 people. A lot of the logistical knowledge that I got from that military training was able to cross over into a personal booth.

Ron:  I go back to my early days at Crestron and my first day at Crestron was in CEDIA 2003. And I remember literally day one and I was interacting with a customer and I was talking about Crestron p-vid, the pad8 and the bipad. And I remember Fred Bargetzy was there with George Feldstein. And there was the customer. There was me, the brand new guy. Yesterday I was at Lutron. Today I'm at Crestron. And I didn't know what any of these black boxes were. But I remember Fred telling me that. And I want to say the analog world still lasted a few more years before everything went to digital media. And then I remember a conversation vividly about there was going to be a digital transformation coming.

Pat: And we saw that in the service because that industrial side sees it before we do on the resi side.

Ron:  It sounds like you saw it in the military even years before it made it to the commercial side of things.

Pat: Yes.

Ron:  That's pretty fascinating. My research team dug up one more image so you have to tell me what's going on here.

Pat: I'll let Phil talk about that one.

Ron:  What do we got here?

Pat: It's the picture with Sammy and Dad.

Ron:  My team finds all sorts of fun content. I've got a picture of Sammy Davis. Looks like he's in some swim trunks. Not much to the swim trunks. And I guess this is your dad. Yeah, that was.

Phil: Originally we are from New Jersey and as a family, we would go and vacation down at St. Thomas. That picture was prior to the family being around. My mom and dad would go down to St. Thomas in Puerto Rico and party up with their friends.

Ron:  That's Rat Pack days right there. Hanging out with Sammy Davis and maybe some Frank Sinatra.

Phil: That was probably the early '60s. Probably '59 or '60 somewhere in that area. The story I heard was they were at somebody else's party and they said Sammy's in town and he's throwing his big party. Let's go crash it. And they go and crash the party that Sammy Davis Jr. was throwing. My dad was the type of person that if he was in a room with twenty-five people that he never met, all twenty-five people within 30 minutes would be his best friend and so he would be able to go to those types of things and know everybody in that party within ten minutes and not get kicked out I guess. That was his M.O. that he was very good at that. And I was not surprised to see that picture with him Sammy.

Ron:  I appreciate you letting me take that sideways there a little bit. Walking down the path with me. Pat you guys are doing all these projects all over the islands, the state of Hawaii and all the islands. How many islands makeup Hawaii?

Phil: If you include Vegas there's nine.

Ron:  And I know you guys also do work in the States. I know you did a really amazing winery an award-winning winery in California. But maybe if you could tell us a little bit about the winery in California and how that job got won? But then I want to spin it back to actually doing work on an island. You guys are vulnerable to hurricanes, salt spray, all sorts of conditions that maybe some of the folks listening don't have to deal with on their projects. And I'd love to just hear how you guys think about that. What you do that's different or how you prepare for some of the harsher conditions.

Phil: Tsunami is another one. We've got the whole gambit.

Pat: I'm fortunate enough with my involvement with the Air Force Auxiliary now and so we're air patrol. I have some pretty good ends with the emergency operation center here on Maui. It's nice because I get a lot of the information prior to the public getting it so I can forewarn our teams and so yeah that's one of the perks of having that and being involved with that organization. But to answer your question we've actually got to go back to '97 when we did a project in Mountain View with a company called Amazing Controls. They're no longer around sadly but the client has become really good family really a client still really good friends with them and the sons.

He had something out in the mid-'90s that Crestron AMX did not have. They were doing ethernet controlled systems well before all of those guys. And yet he had a very good in on it and it was more on the industrial side because they were trying to compete against Johnson Control. That was their main thing. We ended up doing his house in Mountain View. He had a house here in Lahaina and we also did their house in Nice in France and he wanted. They didn't have the hooks for the I.R.S. stuff like that. They had the IP side of it figured out but they didn't have those so he wanted to team up with somebody to crush Goran. And we did the front end of the restaurant and needed the back end programming and tied it all together with amazing control.

Fast forward somewhat one of the lead managers for them Brett Call who is a partner of ours in Northern California and we have a couple of other projects coming up including Phase 3 and 4 of Delgado. Brett got us involved with this because he was able to champion the control processing side of that and integrate with Crestron. That whole facility if you look at it from the front end looks like Crestron. Lighting, audio-video, audio-video the whole nine yards. What Brett brought in the play was the industrial side that you're looking at now where we were actually looking at for fermentation tanks and allowing these guys meaning Delgado and their management, to remotely look at statuses to deal with energy management and facilitating those type of things. And to date, we're saved not me but the system is saving you about 50 percent just on energy management. And Dave has been a proponent for this whole thing and trying to sell prior to COVID other wineries because he's not somebody worried about competition. He's worried about how do we take care of this? How do we make this sustainable? And his facility is one of the first ones in the Napa area that has this system. That's how that came about. And like I said, we've got other stuff going on. Again barring COVID for Phase 3 and 4 we're also in discussions with other wineries with very similar applications because they see that.

I'll let Phil chime in on the other half of your other question about logistics out here and the weather and how to deal with speakers and all that stuff. Yeah. Awesome Phil weather conditions what you guys do different or how do you prepare for that? A lot of the manufacturers have now really upped their game especially on salt issues and things like that on oceanfront properties. 10-15 years ago nobody had anything that would last any amount of time outside. I mean you guys in Florida have the same issue on the oceanfront with salt getting in.

Ron:  We have the hurricanes. We don't have the tsunami's going on here.

Phil: It's one of those things where when somebody that comes to Hawaii vacations or whatever or even if we bring in talent from the mainland or whatever to work for us, the first of every month you have siren warnings. And if you're not used to that. I mean I don't know if that happens on the mainland anywhere but you're like, "What is that? What's going on?" Those are typically for weathered events hurricanes or tsunamis and we've had a couple of scares in the last 10 years that could have been really devastating, just thank God you aren't. Sirens were going off.

Ron:  It goes off at the beginning of every month or only when there is an event?

Phil: They test once a month. The first of the month. At noon. Whatever the first of the month is at noon the sirens go off to walk out on the beach. And if you don't know.

Ron:  You're hitting the deck.

Phil: A lot of the tourists that come, if they're not told by the hotel staff or whatever they kind of freak out a little bit. But you know we're kind of used to it. Except. You know when you get a text. On a Saturday morning. Incoming ballistic missile. This is not a drill, take cover. I don't know if I was in my room to remember about that.

Ron:  I've heard about this. I listened to a podcast where your governor was interviewed by Guy Kawasaki. The details are not crystal for me but I remember hearing about this. Maybe you go ahead and for those that are listening now they're like, "What the heck are you guys talking about? What happened?".

Phil: It was maybe two years ago. Yeah, just something like that. On a Saturday morning. I get up and I was making coffee or whatever so was early it was 6:30-7:00 somewhere in that timeframe. Typically what will happen is if there's a weather event your phone will make this hideous noise. And I don't know if you guys have this.

Ron:  We do like if there's an amber alert or something.

Phil: Yeah it makes us weird like siren a noise. And then the text shows up. And I'm like OK. I mean it's a beautiful day it's sunny It can't be a hurricane and I didn't hear anything about tsunamis happening right. And I'm like looking at my text and the text says, "Incoming ballistic missile alert. This is not a drill. Take cover.".

Ron:  Holy! Did you crap your pants?

Phil: Obviously I'm staring at this thing. Yeah. What do you do right? My wife is sleeping and my son is getting up and I'm just like. Like staring at this numb. Like what are you talking about? What do I do? I go online. Try and find out, try and confirm this online. It can't find anything online. OK. Let's go to CNN right. Nothing on CNN. You're like, "We're not at war so what's going on here?"

Phil: Let me go to the radio right. I go out to my car right to turn on the local radio station. And there's nothing there. "What is going on?" A couple of minutes later I start hearing on the radio. We don't know what this is. We're not sure but take cover because it could be real. And we're just like what? And so now we're standing here going OK. What do we do in a nuclear attack? Right. Nobody knows. Right. There's maybe one facility here that's underground that you could get into. That's half an hour 45 minutes away. We all know OK you know that it's I think 16 to 20 minutes between launch and devastation and so I'm like, "What am I going to do? There's nothing I can do!" And then my wife gets up she's like, "What's going on?" "I don't know I just got this." Finally, information starts to dribble in, in 20 minutes going, "Somebody pressed the wrong button. In the civil defense thing on Oahu." And now they're showing video of people taking local kids on Oahu opening up stormage drain things, throwing kids into these storm drains that are concrete encased. People going crazy, people on the road trying to get somewhere that they think may be safe and which there's really no place you know to be safe. I would imagine detonation would be over Oahu because that's where all the military bases are. Then what's the fallout going to be outer island wise?

Ron:  Which way is the wind blowing right?

Phil: For 20 or 30 minutes. Somebody in fact I think my sister found out about it she's in on the East Coast and calling me and you know saying goodbye to me and she's like, "What do we do? What's happening?" I know for a fact that some people here called their relatives on the mainland and said goodbye to them.

Ron:  That has to be absolutely one of the more terrifying things I have ever heard.

Phil: And again for thirty to forty-five minutes we thought it was real. And it was like wow.

Ron:  Pat, what was that like for you with all your military connections I'm assuming you're dialing the bat phone for people that are supposed to know?

Pat: Interesting you mentioned that I'm seeing a couple of our staff members are on listening better and they're going to trust me. I'm one of the comms operators for the squadron here and I had the UHF VHF radio. There was no chatter. I went back to sleep. I was like something's not right. And I literally was like What are we going to do? Even if it was real. Tell me where it's going to land. And I think my family will stand under because there's not much you can really do especially in Hawaii. We're so limited on resources and it's not like we could pick up and go 400 miles an hour. You're done. But I was interesting, I had our comms radio on at that time and there wasn't any chatter on that which was interesting because typically there's something always going on and it's either a coast guard thing or this and there's always a police raid because we're tied in with the police radios.

Ron:  Your cue would have been if there was chatter then you know something is up.

Pat: That's why I started sending texts out saying, "Guys, I'm not getting a real notification chatters on a secure channel. This doesn't make any sense to me I'm going back to bed.

Ron:  That's crazy. Meanwhile, you see your life passing in front of your eyes.

Phil: Well, I think I called and Pat told me that same thing but it's like, "OK, maybe the comms are down or something." To physically see that on your phone, this is not a drill.

Ron:  Are there bomb shelters around Hawaii like World War 2 era bomb shelters?

Phil: There actually are on Maui. There are some bomb shelters around there obscurely located. And if you didn't know where they were, you'd probably never find out. It's interesting when we moved upcountry, Maui is two mountains in a valley in between. Over ten thousand feet in elevation we consider that upcountry. We lived up in about 2200 foot elevation. And there are actually locations upcountry that have bomb shelters that are one-foot thick concrete, maybe a 20 by 20 structure that we're placed all throughout upcountry. And what happened was, when my dad was doing some developing here, he bought a piece of property that had one of these things on it. I think he used it as a tool shed or something in the house. It became part of the structure of the house.

Phil: There is another island that's part of Maui County. You can see it from Maui County. And it was uninhabited and it was bombed. I think all the way through late 70s as target practice from the Navy. We would be sitting out eating dinner on the lanai and you would see flares being dropped and then you'd hear explosions.

Ron:  Oh my gosh.

Phil: Yeah. And it was. Crazy things happen here. A lot of the local activists finally got the government to sto and have subsequently had to go in and either detonate or remove ordinance that are on that island. It's still uninhabited. And it was devastated. They had to replant trees and it wouldn't get any rain because there were no trees to attract the rain clouds and all this stuff. It's finally starting to come back and it's still off-limits because there are still ordinance that are unexploded. And so it's a liability factor but you know it's a project now that is undertaken by the state and a lot of the local organizations to reforest and bring life back to that island.

Ron:  Holy cow. I heard this story I heard it on that podcast. But to hear it from the two of you first person, to hear Pat's humorous, "I went back to bed." To hear you, Phil, you're like me I've never been in the military. My brother's been in the Army. He did communications actually like you Pat. He went in the first wave in 2003 in Iraq. But I don't come from that experience and so I imagine that I would just be an absolute terrified mess if that message comes through. I know everyone listening here certainly appreciates hearing the two of you and hearing your first-person experience. We're running tight on time but I did realize that I had one more image and I'm going to change the image here. Pat, one more fun image. I follow you like maybe many do on social media and you're always posting your different adventures. And I always see you on Facebook like lifting weights underwater and I'll be honest I really don't know what the hell you're doing but it looks really interesting. I grabbed a picture from Facebook. What are you doing here?

Pat: The gentleman to my left in the photo I'm the one that's up there on the far right. Babe Kerner is actually on me or least he was. About five or six years ago when he and I first met we were all trying to figure out better not better but other ways to work out. As we're getting older, I'm in my 50s now. Joints and things like that start getting a little wacky. We started doing some stuff that I did in the service as a special operator. We use a lot of water to do certain maneuvers. And one of them was what we call hypoxic training where we're learning how to deal with over breath-holding. To learn how to bring more lung capacity. He was like, Oh that sounds interesting." We started doing some stuff that the MMA guys do, BG Penn has done it for a while. A lot of the big wave surfers do.

Ron:  You guys know B.J. Penn?

Pat: I do yes. In fact, that's another story for you.

Ron:  I got to call you after. We'll do that on the after show. We'll talk about it. I'm a big MMA fan so yeah.

Pat: That's another big adventure but yeah. We started doing this about four or five years ago Dave and our crew has expanded. We are doing this at a beach and it's a sand bottom so it allows us to do that. We started out with rocks at first because I don't want to go buy some weights and they rust out. Well, Dave got smart. He's like, "Dude why don't we get something that's encased in plastic like a kettlebell?" It was it like two years ago. "Great let's do it." We started doing that. In fact, if you look behind it looks like a stingray but it's not it's actually in water parachutes. We're getting more stupid and stupid but it does work at certain depths. Again you got to be real safety cautious. We always have a safety brief with our team. Dave is a physical therapist so he knows a lot about how the body is gonna react in certain things. Getting his knowledge behind it, my knowledge from the service side of things and then looking at Larry Hamilton and what some of the big wave surfers are doing. We're not just running the rocks we're actually doing a full workout in the water so less joint manipulation. You really think about it at depth once you get to about 10-12 feet. The ocean itself acts like a body sock, a compression sock. There's more protection to that.

Ron:  You're at two Gs at what 10-15 feet?

Pat: Yeah.

Ron:  You're at an additional atmosphere right?

Pat: Correct. And it's all breath old. We're not doing any tanks or anything to that effect but we've added a bunch of new weights and different apparatuses to expand the workout.

Ron:  Are you literally inventing all of your workouts? Are you following a book or routines or you guys are writing the script as you go?

Pat: We're just throwing stuff in there and see what sticks and having fun doing it. There's no cost to it. There's no gym membership. We're up to about. Oh, I don't know 10-12 people now that are in the water. Matter of fact sometimes our reps will come out. We're trying to get Chad out here to do it with us, Robert Melendez.

Ron:  I'll totally do that. I love the water. I love swimming. In my youth I swam for many years and how long can you hold your breath?

Pat: I'm about a two-minute breath old but I want to get to where I was in three and a half- four-minute range. I'm not close to that at all at this point.

Ron:  Three and a half four minutes not under exertion.

"There are two differences. You have a static hold and you have a dynamic hold. The world record on static is I think like twenty-five minutes and I think of a female out of Paris that holds that. The breath-hold for dynamic movement I think is around 15. This is all movement."

Pat: No. OK. There are two differences. You have a static hold and you have a dynamic hold. The world record on static is I think like twenty-five minutes and I think of a female out of Paris that holds that. The breath-hold for dynamic movement I think is around 15. This is all movement.

Ron:  Like a human dolphin.

Pat: Well yeah. And you have to learn to reduce the amount of extra energy that you can expel. That is a part of this that we do is we'll train how you know how to dive properly, how to get down. Forgive the term. We call it asses up. You've got to get your butts in the air and get down and use as little amount as energy to get down to the weights. And something that we've incorporated that I don't think anybody else has done yet and I'm not trying to say that Larry hasn't. They probably have but one of the ladies brought in a ball it's got a handle on it. And basically, you can hold onto the handle and say about 10 foot of depth and you're just doing decompression and just hanging there and it just feels great.

Ron:  Oh wow.

Pat: Yeah. You're doing all this running so we have multiple weights. We have multiple of these hippity hops is what they're calling it. And basically, you can have one group doing static stretches just hanging with the weights on your feet. You put them on your feet and you're just hanging there with a static stretch while the others are doing some kind of overhead presses or whatever the case may be. But we're always having a safety person at all times. We have the balls just in case we've got to grab on to some. There's always somebody tracking somebody else at all times.

Ron:  Wow. I love it. I can keep talking to you guys but I'm looking at the time and already see this is the longest podcast we've ever done in four years.

Pat: When else do you have bomb threats.

Ron:  There is no doubt this is one of the more eclectic shows we've done but I knew you guys would bring it so there's no surprise there. Well, I want to thank you both for coming on the show. This is Automation Unplugged show 146.

Phil: Well, I've got to say I'm disappointed that it took us this long to get on the show. You know 146 really we should have been in the top hundred at least. I knew that was coming. I know.

"The next sign or signal of power and strength is that I'm definitely going to have you guys on again. The next status symbol is the repeat."

Ron:  How about this? The next sign or signal of power and strength is that I'm definitely going to have you guys on again. The next status symbol is the repeat.

Phil: OK. It's kind of like SNL, the people that host SNL kind of thing. OK.

Ron:  And I see that in your future I have no doubt we're gonna get lots of great feedback from this fun show. Pat, I'll start with you again. Thank you for coming on. How can anyone that wants to get in touch with you maybe to learn about hypoxic training or anything else that you've talked about. What's the best way for them to get a hold of you?

Pat: Sure no problem. We'll plug the business first Pacific Audio Communications. Just go to I'll throw it on the chat here in a minute. You can also get me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. that's also on the website. Call me my number 8088701615. Any time there, thank you Ron. I'm on Facebook. I'm on Linkedin Twitter, both personally and professionally both ways. If you're coming this way and you want to get in the water or whatever. Let's do it.

Ron:  Awesome. Same to you Phil. How can people that want to learn more about you or get in touch with you how can they do that?

Phil: Yeah. Same contact through the business or my e-mail is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I am on Facebook LinkedIn Twitter. All of those social media devices and my phone number 8701619. We got our phones just the same time. In fact, isn't Julie's number in that range too? We don't need to say it but yeah. We bought a bunch of phones all at the same time so we all got sequential numbers. Yeah. A lot of the guys that originally worked for us have those numbers still or had those numbers, the sequential numbers.

Ron:  Got it. Well, both of you gentlemen thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and it was a pleasure to have you on the show.

Phil: Thank you.

Ron:  Alright folks. There you have it. That was show 146. That was a lot of fun. I'm not going to lie, listening to that bomb threat story from Phil. I could just imagine and channel the fear that he must have experienced that's just absolutely terrifying. And these guys run a great operation. They're well-liked and well regarded around our industry around the world. I've fortunately gotten to know them over the recent years. We worked together for a bit back in the early days of One Firefly and then we reconnected some years ago and they're just a blast to work with. It was a lot of fun.

If you're out there watching and listening and you do not already subscribe to the podcast, remember this is the video if you're watching me right now this is the video. But this can be in your earholes if you prefer that method of consumption. If you're like me and you like to walk or run or exercise maybe when you're on your Peloton bike and you want to listen just subscribe and you can listen to all of our guests. Please do that. And again if you want to learn more about One Firefly or get in touch with myself or any member of my team just give us a call or you can go to On that note I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. And in fact , I'm going to have to reconnect now with Pat and Phil. I forgot to wish them a good Thanksgiving before we ended the show here. But I will see you guys soon. Actually, we're going to do another show tomorrow. tune in. We're gonna have John Robbins on. John Robbins with the HTSA buying group. Come on for that special. John and I are going to have a blast and I'll see you guys soon, tomorrow.


Phil founded Maui-based integration firm Pacific Audio & Communication in 1991 to help homeowners achieve their goal of integrated home control and entertainment systems. Later in 1998, Pat joined Phil in the family business and used his military electronics experience and degree in electrical engineering to help run the CI side of the operation, including all Crestron programming. They currently run Pacific Audio & Communications together as President (Phil) and Vice President (Pat).

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing within the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview:

Make sure to follow Pacific Audio & Communications on social media! They're on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Need to talk to someone from Pacific Audio & Communications? Phil and Pat shared their best contact info! You can reach Phil at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Pat at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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